Zim's multiple taxes stalling progress

HARARE - The clueless and desperate Zanu PF administration has come up with a raft of new taxes, further strangling its overtaxed citizens.

President Robert Mugabe’s government last Thursday imposed a new 10 percent tax on tobacco sales, resulting in angry farmers threatening to withhold their crop for the current marketing season.

The farmers’ response to the new tax is likely to disrupt the much-anticipated 2017 tobacco marketing season.

Impoverished Zimbabweans rank among the most heavily-taxed in the region given that they are already reeling from a wave of other additional taxes recently imposed on them, including the recent shock hike in traffic fines, the taxing of commuter omnibus operators, driving schools, hairdressers and cross-border traders.

This is against the background of government recently giving the green light for the assumption of the Health Levy — a five percent tax on airtime and data.

In addition to that, the long-suffering citizens have been paying the Aids Levy while their salaries are significantly taxed at least 20 percent through pay-as-you-earn (Paye).

Recently, Mugabe’s desperate administration imposed a 15 percent value added tax (Vat) on meat and potatoes, which they later reversed following fierce outrage by consumers.

Motorists are also levied through toll fees and vehicle licences and authorities are planning to introduce urban tolling.

It appears government is trying to raise funds to meet its obligations, including paying bonuses to civil servants.

Government last month agreed to pay bonuses to its bloated workforce, following threats of industrial action by union leaders.

The cocktail of taxes is not good for the economy and reminds people of the disastrous hyperinflation of 2008.

Meanwhile, bond notes — a surrogate currency introduced late last year — continued to lose value against the United States dollar, which is now scarce on the open market. Apart from having to contend with its depleted coffers, the government is also struggling to contain rising public discontent over the worsening shortages of cash and plummeting standards of living.

Surprisingly, while government collects substantial amounts from these taxes and fees — including fines at the numerous police roadblocks — an insignificant amount is channelled towards its intended purpose with the remainder sieving through into the unorthodox but institutionalised corruption network.

Following the controversial 2013 elections, the country has seen a steady reversal of its growth trajectory.

The agricultural and manufacturing sectors in Zimbabwe are in a near-comatose state.

On the other hand, health delivery services and standards in the education sector have plummeted to alarming levels. If only the money collected was used to fund the productive as well as service sectors, the better.

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